The City and the Stars Paperback – Dec 2 1993
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|Paperback, Dec 2 1993||
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is similar in some aspects to the later, and I believe better, Childhood's End in that the plot is about the transfiguration of human society. In Childhood's End a great transfiguration into another level of existence and in this one the waking up of two moribund earth societies in the far future.
Slow and ponderously we move through the book, exploring the earth and the universe. We find the universe empty, almost completely devoid of the galactic empire that permeates the legends of earth society. Though there is a point, and it is realized at the end of the book spending 212 pages exploring empty vistas is not my idea of entertainment.
At the end, mankind has awoken and again given an opportunity to grow and become more than the fearful earthbound race it had turned into. We end with much work to do and the idea that it is the journey that is worthwhile, not the destination.
This golden age classic sadly is showing it's age. The ideas now co-opted and familiar to everyone and the plodding plot barely able to hold a reader's interest. The final payoff just barely makes it a worthwhile read, and there is some historical significance of this early example of the conceit of examining deep philosphical issues.
Set millions of years in the future, the story focuses on Alvin, a citizen of the city Diaspar who is unlike any other citizen at the time in that he has not lived before, though we do learn that there have been other "Uniques" (as they are called) in the past, they have all disappeared. As the others of his generation are coming of age and recovering the memories of their past lives, Alvin is left to pursue his own course. He, unlike any other citizen of Diaspar, wants to see what lies outside of the city.
Clarke's story is complex and layered and he builds a future which captures the reader's interest. The society of Diaspar is one based on fear, they have fear of "The Invaders" who at some time in the distant past forced humanity from the stars and back to Earth to live in the single city of Diaspar. Thus they also fear leaving the city, but at the same time, the Central Computer seems to be aiding Alvin in his attempts to leave the city, and he is also aided by Khedron, the Jester, who fulfills the role in society of stopping it from completely stagnating through his stunts or jests.
Needless to say that Alvin succeeds in his attempt to leave the city, but the story goes much further than that.Read more ›
Clarke shows us once again why he is one of the grand masters of science fiction. Are all utopias also dystopias? Is immortality a truly desirable goal? Is security worth the sacrifice of curiosity? In achieving paradise, do we surrender our humanity?
These are large questions that this book answers provocatively and incompletely, itself a tribute to the author's good sense. Too complete an answer would not only be pedantic, it would deprive us of the pleasure of our own ruminations.
His detractors will cite his usual shortcomings: flat characters, slow plots, pedestrian imagery and merely adequate writing. While true, such complaints miss the point because Clarke has never pretended to great literature. His purpose is to provoke: with the facility of his intelligence, the depth of his creativity, the breadth of his imagination. Expecting depth of character from Clarke is just as misplaced as expecting alien planetary vistas from Shakespeare. Such expectations say more about the limitations of the reader than those of the author.
The City and the Stars was written years before the dark urban vistas of Dick and Gibson. If others have constructed more compelling visions of futuristic dystopias, it is because they have had the benefit of standing on Clarke's shoulders. But even in the venue of dystopias, Clarke's questions go beyond the merely dystopian.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Great story,...made the reader really think about the World To Come,.....and to put the book down at the end, with more great thoughts being stimulated about the words you and... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Martyn Legge
This is a real page turner. If you are into sci fi, this is the book for all of you!Published on May 13 2013 by Gregory A. Boshaw
This may have been the first sf I ever read. I am certain few others have ever topped it. [Note this is a 1956 expanded rewrite of the original version entitled "Against the... Read morePublished on March 28 2004 by Virgil
Virtually everyone here seems to agree with me, so I don't think I need to repeat these sentiments, so I'll just say this. The first time I read it, I was almost home in L.A. Read morePublished on March 23 2004 by James van Scoyoc
Great book, story up-to-date for the 21th century. Sometime I feel as if I am living in Diasper and waiting for the link to Lyss to be opened again. Read morePublished on Sept. 2 2003 by E. Nachtrieb
This is the story of the human race as it exists about a billion years in the future. A more ambitious premise for a novel is almost impossible to imagine, but Clarke pulls it off... Read morePublished on Nov. 3 2002 by Roger J. Buffington
I first read this book in 1957. I loved it of course, but I had no idea where it ranked against anything else. I was 11. Read morePublished on Sept. 24 1999 by BillBean
I read 'The City And The Stars' at the tender age of eleven or twelve. Nearly thirty years and many thousands of books later it still ranks as perhaps the greatest... Read morePublished on Oct. 10 1998